In an alternate universe where Russia takes over America (how well timed considering Putin and Trump allegations) — it’s not looking good for the land of the free. A few heroes stand in defiance of the takeover and this issue gives Shadowman the focus, but is it good?
Divinity III: Shadowman and the Battle of New Stalingrad #1 (Valiant Entertainment)
So what’s it about? The summary reads:
To save the devastated and oppressed island of New York, Jack Boniface might just have to annihilate it first – by leading an army of Deadside-spawned monstrosities onto the streets to fight the Soviets’ super-powered shock troops wherever they stand. But freedom fighters like the one they call Shadowman seldom get the happy ending they deserve…
Why does this book matter?
This issue shows what it was like when Russia invaded the States in this alternative universe which helps give a bit of perspective on the war. It also shows Shadowman doing things I wasn’t even aware he could do. One word: Dinosaur.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Scott Bryan Wilson plots this issue well with an opening that reminds us what the Russians have done to America and then the violence that’s breaking out in the now. When brains and guts start flying you’ll be wanting some Shadowman action to kick in to show the Russians who is boss. This leads to an action packed sequence with some wicked ideas that make Shadowman infinitely more interesting (at least in my mind): most notably, he can conjure up dead dinosaurs and ride them. Oh. My. God. It’s the coolest and it makes the action more interesting. The issue itself closes with a frightening reveal that suits the gloom and doom story here.
Robert Gill delivers when the action ramps up. Shadowman fighting hand to hand is easy to follow and shows off his moves, and the use of his powers look downright cool. Gill has a detailed style that makes the rubble of New York look truly shattered. There are some interesting double page layouts that convey the chaos of battle–as well as Gill’s ability to draw gore–as well as the super cool supernatural powers of Shadowman.
The backup, “The Origin of Baba Yaga” brings an all kinds of creepy fairy tale vibe that helps convey the mystical nature of Rasputin’s rise. Matt Kindt writes this with art by Juan Jose Ryp. Ryp draws in a style reminiscent of Frank Quitely with interesting textures and depth in each scene. It helps sell the very weird s--t that goes down in this story.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Aside from a flashback page showing Shadowman when he’s just a boy there isn’t a lot of character work at all. Instead it’s all out war and fighting. That makes the conclusion feel less interesting and worthy of your time.
Creepy boiling baby is creepy.
Is It Good?
Witness the destruction of New York City and the all out war Shadowman brings to Russia. This issue is a good done in one story that has high octane action and killer art.